You know how sometimes the A student isn’t aways the smartest student in the class? He gets good grades and passes his tests but all his knowledge comes from being able to absorb the context of their text books rather than from any nature talent, common sense or true understanding. Mr. Norrell is that kind of person while his new apprentice Jonathan Strange is the rebellious student sitting in the back row carving magnificent works of art into the top of his desk.
Both magicians are talented in their own way but their ways contrast like night and day. This was evident before the two chaps even met and it’s more so once they began working together. While Mr. Norrell creates invisible force fields with the expectation that his genius be taken at face value (because he said so), Jonathan Strange turns sand into magnificent steeds that run on water. Both men have their advantages and faults.
Mr. Norrell’s stiffness hasn’t prevented him from making mistakes. One of those big mistakes is his resurrection of Lady Pole. Last episode he summoned a fairy king to bring the lady back from the dead in exchange for half her life. Mr. Norrell thought that this meant that she would die when she was 40 but The Gentleman means to collect his payment now. While Lady Pole sleeps, she belongs to The Gentleman, dancing at his strange parties every night. This begins to take it’s tole on the young woman as she spends her waking days exhausted and frightened. When she tries to explain what has happened, only nonsense statements pass through her lips.
Many of the Poole’s servants sense that the house is haunted and leave, but the handsome Stephen Black remains and manages to catch the eye of The Gentleman. Stephen is tricked into spending his nights at The Gentleman’s parties as well. He sees that amongst the nightmarish guests, Lady Poole (and her pinky finger) is there every night though he is never able to get close to her.
Lady Poole attempts to tell Arabella what Mr. Norrell has done to her and again fails to get out the right words. However, what she does manage to do is make Arabella suspicious of Mr. Norrell. Meanwhile, The Gentleman, who has been lurking about, has become intrigued by Arabella.
At the end of the episode, Strange has now won the favor of Lord Pole with his display of magic and, along with 40 of Mr. Norrell’s books, has joined the war effort. While at first both magicians were impressed with each other, Mr. Norrell with Strange’s natural talent and Strange with Mr. Norrell education and library, they have quickly started to grow apart. Strange is frustrated with Mr. Norrell’s lack of sharing and controlling behavior while Mr. Norrell has become jealous of the attention the charming young Jonathan Strange is receiving. They are slowly becoming rivals.
Some notable moments form the episode:
- Jonathan Strange is able to create his own spells and has only one spell book, a book about The Raven King.
- Mr. Norrell has declared himself the only magician of England but others have displayed magical talent too. Childermass reads tarot cards, Vinculus performs street magic and Mr. Segundus is able to enter Jonathan Strange’s dream.
- Drawlight and Lascelles are often lurking about scheming. It appears they want to gain from their association with Mr. Norrell.
- The Gentleman shows Stephen a mirror in which Stephen appears with a crown on his head.
- The Gentleman calls his kingdom Lost Hope.
Photos courtesy of BBC America.